Untitled Superman Vs. Batman Film Gets List of Tentative Titles, MAN OF STEEL: BATTLE THE KNIGHT Amongst the Running

Odds are you could probably care less what DC decides to title their Man of Steel sequel, which is set to pit the near invisible Superman again a PTSD-suffering billionaire who dresses like a bat and wears a lot of black makeup, but the latest list of possible titles is sure to induce the slightest of gags from the masses still with the truffley taste of Christopher Nolan‘s Battrilogy still lingering in our mouths. I’m of course not accounting for of bottom-tier puns (here all focused on swapping knight in for night, GET IT?!) who this batch of title treatments seems custom tailored for. The rest of us though can collectively sigh at the rampant stupidity taking place over at Warner Bros and the world of superhero sequel namers at large.

The runt of the new name litter is probably Man of Steel: Battle the Knight which sounds like the name of an animated title intended for 5-year olds yet to learn the idiosyncrasies of the language. Yank that colon out for Man of Steel Battles the Knight, or just go the next step for Man of Steel Battles the Dark Knight, and there’s at least something of interest that also reads like a normal sentence. As is, it sounds like the juvenile attempt of someone who secured an unflattering C in high school English.

Since the dawn of the Silver Surfer, the colon has become so overused in the blockbuster films that it’s essentially become a required part of a name for anything with a hundred million dollar plus budget. Even more important than the colon is the need to tack the word ‘dark’ somewhere in there (it’s just a no-brainer amiright?). This year’s Star Trek: Into Darkness is the best example of a misused colon couple with the useless inclusion of the word ‘dark’ (why not just Star Trek into Darkness or, more appropriately, Star Trek: Wrath of Khan: Part Deux). Thor: The Dark World is another great example of just throwing a colon and the word ‘dark’ at a title and expecting oohs and ahhs from wide-eyed fanboys.

As for this super DC conglomerate, there’s not much to this list of titles that catches my interest but, who knows, maybe people will just eat ’em up. What do you think of the following?

  • Man of Steel: Battle the Knight
  • Man of Steel: Beyond Darkness
  • Man of Steel: Black of Knight
  • Man of Steel: Darkness Falls
  • Man of Steel: Knight Falls
  • Man of Steel: Shadow of the Night
  • Man of Steel: The Blackest Hour
  • Man of Steel: The Darkness Within

At this point why don’t they just go with Man of Steel: Night of the Knight…oh wait. That actually has a nice ring to it. I think I’ve officially just spitballed a better title than WB’s collection of caffeine-slobbering goons jammed in a conference room somewhere, feeding from their 100k salaries.

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Spiderman Dons a Fighterfighter Helmet and Hose in…Wait What?

Ok, where to begin on this one? Deep breath. So it appears that spidey sense, web-shooters, and wall climbing abilities just aren’t cutting it these days as Spidey has taken up a new mantle as an amateur firefighter… helmet and all. It’s not really clear where this will fit into the events of the next film or if it’s maybe just a joke intended to stir the internet into a WTF frenzy but the high quality of the photo and the apparent effects erupting all around Mr. Fireman seem to indicate that this is actually an event that takes place within the film. Because there’s nothing that Spiderman can’t and won’t do. Just you wait until stripper firefighter Spiderman. I don’t know about you but I can’t help but laugh at this photo while simultaneously dreading how terrible the film will likely be. I humbly apologize though because you’re now undoubtedly dumber for having seen this photo.

While the first film in this controversially rebooted franchise saw the events of Sam Raimi‘s Spiderman and his origins mimicked to the nth degree and a very poorly realize baddie in Doctor Connors – a man/lizard intent on turning the rest of Manhattan into man/lizards – this followup will feature Jaime Foxx as a very, very blue Electro. Because why would you cast a black man and leave him with black skin? Also, Paul Giamatti will step in as a small role as the Rhino with speculation pointing towards an eventual gang of super villains in the form of the canon classics, The Sinister Six. Finally Spiderman 3 and it’s three villains will seem like a respite once these six start rolling along.

In a typical move of putting the cart before the horse, it seems that Fox cares more about the future of the franchise than the present, dumping villain names as if they’re movie gold. I, for one, am very over this property and am already waiting for it to default back over to Marvel. Go ahead and look at these photos of Electro, Peter, and Gwen with the knowledge that you’ll probably just end up complaining about this flick after it comes out anyways.

Jaime Foxx as Electro

Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker

The Amazing Spiderman 2 will see the return of director Marc Webb and stars Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone but also features a whole cast of new actors including Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Paul GiamattiFelicity Jones, Chris Cooper, and Sally Field. The Amazing Spiderman 2 opens May 2, 2014.


To No One’s Surprise, Aronofsky’s Noah Sees Backlash from Religious Community


Darren Aronofsky’s sure-to-be-controversial new film Noah, based on the Old Testament story, is already getting less than stellar reviews from religious test audiences. Paramount is pushing for a different cut, in order to broaden the films appeal, even if it means going against Aronofsky’s artistic vision. Paramount has a huge investment in the 125 million dollar picture (Aronofsky’s most expensive yet), so they have reason for concern.

However, it should come as no surprise to them that anything less than “Kirk Cameron presents Noah” would rub religious fundamentalists the wrong way. The irony is that the atheist, Darren Aronofsky, is probably more familiar with the story of Noah than the zealots who decry his interpretation. Paramount’s best course of action is to trust in their award-winning filmmaker and embrace the controversy. As Life of Brian and Dogma have shown, religious protests will actually generate more revenue for the film.

Aronofsky has reportedly been dismissive of Paramount’s suggestions. Hopefully, he stays true to his vision, as the March 2014 release isn’t far off and this has the potential to be a truly original artistic endeavor. To make a half-assed biblical analogy, Aronofsky should continue to treat Paramount the same way Noah treated skeptics, with inattention.

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MoviePass Makes Attending the Theater Cheaper


You may have heard of a similar service before, one that offers unlimited movies at a theater for a monthly fee, but MoviePass is taking the idea national-wide. The idea is that with constantly rising ticket prices, people are attending the movies less than ever just as media subscription services like Netflix are at an all-time high of popularity. What MoviePass aims to do is take advantage of the subscription phenomenon while also making movie attendance in masse more affordable.

Right now, movie tickets weigh in around $12, with matinees slashing a few bucks and 3D or IMAX screenings jacking up the rate, sometimes significantly. Instead of paying for each and every theater venture, MoviePass lets you pay for a service that would allow unlimited monthly screenings. While the service is definitely a great investment for those of you who are already attending a handful of movies a month, it may not be worth it for people who only make a few trips to the theater.

But just do the math. If you’re seeing four movies a month at $12 a pop, you’re averaging just shy of $50 a month. A monthly subscription to MoviePass is just $35. If you’re like me and see upwards of 25 movies a month, the savings provided by this type of service can be monumental. Although I get the critics special privilege of not paying for my movies, you better believe me: if I weren’t, I would sign up for this in a heart beat.

Like Netflix gives people the impetus to seek out things that they otherwise would probably never be exposed to, MoviePass gives you a reason to go to the theater because the more you go, the cheaper it is! The only hitch is that you need to sign up for a whole year.

MoviePass is available at 95% of theaters nation-wide, with 14 theaters participating in the Seattle area, seven in San Francisco, and a whopping 52 in New York City.

Take into account that MoviePass only provides for movies that are shown in 2D though so anyone whose got a major need to strap on those goofy glasses need look elsewhere. The icing on the cake is that there aren’t any strings attached like blackout date or movie exceptions.

I sound like a salesman but I really just pumped about the product. Let me know if you end up giving it a try!

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Round One of the 2014 Oscar Predictions

As 2013 races to a close, it’s time for the first round of Oscar predictions. 2013 started with a whimper with a truly slumping spring season that moved into a relatively disappointing summer slate of blockbusters (at least from a critical perspective). But the fall season hopes to make up for any inadequacies of the rest of the year with a lump sum of certifiably great films. Although some of my predicted contenders have yet to see the light of day, there are now enough pieces in play to make a fair judgement as to what may and may not make the cut come the year’s end. Come join us to discuss our first round of 2014’s Oscar predictions.

I’ve personally only seen a few of the big contenders for Best Picture (Gravity, Dallas Buyers Club, Captain Phillips), some have played their way through the festival circuit (Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr. Banks, 12 Years a Slave, Inside Llewyn Davis) and the remainder have yet to be seen at all (The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, The Monuments Men). But even for these unknown qualities, all you have to do is look at the talent and directors and a shoe-in is the rule rather than the exception.

Coming off a fiery debut at TIFF, 12 Years a Slave seems the clear front runner and is sure to nab nomination across the board (including Steve McQueen‘s first directing Oscar nomination as well as first time nominations for Chiwetel Ejifor and Lupita Nyong’o). Others such as Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks won high praise out of Cannes and the AFI fest respectively and will similar play across many categories.

As far as those that have yet to play for any audience, David O. Russell’s sterling track record speaks for itself and, depending on how well-received American Hustle is, he may prove to be 12 Years a Slave and Steve McQueen‘s biggest challenge. While The Wolf of Wall Street is involved in a bit of a juggling act, it’s darkly comic tone may keep it from being amongst the top tier, a similar situation to George Clooney‘s The Monument’s Men. Although Clooney’s name, an all-star cast, and a historic context have proved successful in the past, the first trailer looked a little too light to make it a serious player in a very heavy year.

Gravity still sits pretty as a critical darling that will have the backing of the mainstream, who rushed out to see it this weekend to a tune of more than $50 million and for it, is likely to take home a bulk of the technical categories.

Probably one of this year’s biggest talking points will orbit the discussion of an unprecedented amount of African-American nominees. Steve McQueen may not be the first black director to be nominated (he would actually be the third after John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) and Lee Daniels (Precious)) he is the first who actually stands a fair chance at winning. Likewise, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o lead their respective category. Even more impressive is the fact that the Best Supporting Actress category is likely to see nominations for three black actresses (Nyong’o, Oprah Winfrey, and Octavia Spencer)

Best Picture:

1. “12 Years a Slave”

2. “American Hustle”
3. “Gravity”
4. “Saving Mr. Banks”
5. “Captain Phillips”
6. “Inside Llewyn Davis”
7. “Dallas Buyers Club”
8. “The Monuments Men”
9. “The Wolf of Wall Street”

10. “August: Osage County”
11. “All is Lost”
12. “Nebraska”
13. “Rush”
14. “Before Midnight”

Best Director:

1. Steve McQueen “12 Years a Slave”

2. Alfonso Cuaron “Gravity”
3. David O. Russell “American Hustle”
4. John Lee Hancock “Saving Mr. Banks”
5. The Coen Bros “Inside Llewyn Davis”

6. Paul Greengrass  “Captain Phillips”
7. George Clooney “The Monuments Men”
8. Martin Scorsese “The Wolf of Wall Street”
9. JC Chandor “All is Lost”
10. Alexander Payne “Nebraska”

Best Actor:

1. Matthew McConaughey “Dallas Buyers Club”
2. Chiwetel Ejifor “12 Years a Slave”
3. Tom Hanks  “Captain Phillips”
4. Robert Redford “All is Lost”
5. Forest Whitaker “Lee Daniel’s The Butler”

6. Leonardo DiCaprio “The Wolf of Wall Street”
7. Christain Bale “American Hustle”
8. Bruce Dern “Nebraska”
9. Joaquin Phoenix “Her”
10 .Oscar Isaac “Inside Llewyn Davis”

Best Actress:


1. Cate Blanchett “Blue Jasmine”
2. Judi Dench “Philomena”
3. Meryl Streep “August: Osage County”
4. Sandra Bullock “Gravity”
5. Emma Thompson “Saving Mr. Banks”
6.Amy Adams “American Hustle”
7. Julie Delpy “Before Midnight”
8. Brie Larson “Short Term 12”
9. Adèle Exarchopoulos “Blue is the Warmest Color”
10. Berenice Bejo “The Past”

Best Supporting Actor:

1. Jared Leto “Dallas Buyers Club”

2. Daniel Bruhl “Rush”
3. Michael Fassbender “12 Years a Slave”
4. Tom Hanks “Saving Mr. Banks”
5. John Goodman “Inside Llewyn Davis”

6. Bradley Cooper “American Hustle”
7. Jake Gllyenhaal “Prisoners”
8. Barkhad Abdi “Captain Phillips”
9. Sam Rockwell “The Way, Way Back”
10. Andrew Dice Clay “Blue Jasmine”

Best Supporting Actress:

1. Lupita Nyong’o “12 Years a Slave”

2. Oprah Winfrey “Lee Daniel’s The Butler”
3. Julia Roberts “August: Osage County”
4. Octavia Spencer “Fruitvale Station”
5. Cameron Diaz “The Counselor”

6. Margo Martindale “August: Osage County”
7. June Squibb “Nebraska”
8. Melissa Leo “Prisoners”
9. Jennifer Lawrence “American Hustle”
10. Carey Mulligan “Inside Llewyn Davis”

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THE GRANDMASTER Is Lost in Translation

Culture is a thing worthy of celebration, not a placeholder. It’s a proud artifact of a civilization that distinguishes its unique place in the world while offering a respectful homage to the past. In large part, world cinema is dictated by Hollywood but the cross-pollination taking place here crosses a line in the sand, using cultural differences as a means to gut and sanitize a film that was once called great. This Americanized cut clearly is not.

Foreign films like Amelie aim to invite us into a distinctly different world that works not in spite of their cultural inconsistencies with our more familiar Hollywood fare but because of them. Amelie wasn’t hacked down, re-spliced and formatted to fit an American audience ideal of three-act basics. It was perfect just the way it was.

Likewise, Alfonso Cuaron‘s Y Tu Mamá También didn’t bandage its decadent carnal acts. It wore its overtly sexualized heart on its sleeve, regardless of the puritan American mainstream who just so happened to gulp it up. We didn’t need a redux where everything just so happens to work out in the end because we didn’t need it. Similarly, Guillermo del Toro‘s bleak Pan’s Labyrinth wasn’t sterilized with a storybook ending. No, we couldn’t wash the gritty, greasy afterbirth nightmares we get from 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days out of our brains and yet it’s a film that would have been laughed right out of the studio system. It works because it showed us something different, something distinctly non-American.

This brings us to The Grandmaster, a film referred to by the droves who saw it open at the Berlin International Film Festival as a “masterpiece.” I can tell you frankly, what I saw was no masterpiece. The narrative shifts felt wooden, character movement is frantic and often ungrounded and an attempt to simplify two life stories into one 108-minute film reaches too far. There are moments of grandeur, some stunning camera work and often interesting focal points for the masterful kung-fu battles splayed throughout the film but these are overshadowed by a disjointed narrative and increasing sense of something missing. The only rational conclusion is that in hopping from one continent to another, something has been lost in translation.


Produced over the course of three years (filming itself dictating almost two years), director Wong Kar-wai admits that he himself took a scissor to the original 130 minute cut to make it more “Americanized.” Although he stands behind the select-copy-deleting of entire portions of his film, we have to wonder what qualifies a Hong Kong native as an arbiter for what works best for an American audience. Over at The Huffington Post, Wai had a chance to speak out and express his stamp of approval on this US cut of the film:

“As a filmmaker, let me say that the luxury of creating a new cut for U.S. audiences was the opportunity to reshape it into something different than what I began with — a chance one doesn’t always get as a director and an undertaking much more meaningful than simply making something shorter or longer.”

Here, Kar-wai admits how his reshaping impacts the final result in far more ways than run-time. What he fails to realize is just how much he has castrated his film by attempting to perfect it for an audience that he doesn’t understand.

For a parallel from the past on how edits can entirely change the meaning of a film, take for example Ridley Scott‘s Blade Runner. Now often called a “sci-fi masterpiece,” Scott’s original vision was buried under a studio-ordered voice-over ending that made the conclusion seem more suitable and close-booked than the vaguely ambiguous and much more thought-provoking original cut. Thankfully, that edit was largely redacted and Scott’s far superior vision was able to shine through to his audiences via his much-celebrated Director’s Cut. What Blade Runner proves is that even a fragment as short as a minute can change the entire course of a film. Accordingly, it is without question that a re-cut removing a whole 22 minutes can morph a masterpiece into just another lukewarm kung-fu film.


Another flagrant case of authorial manipulation is Anthony Burgess‘s fiery novel A Clockwork Orange. In the American version of the novel, the last chapter was excised entirely – cut clean from the book and swept away. For those unfamiliar with the novel, it involves a young, rapey ruffian, Alex, who is institutionalized in experimental hopes of ridding him of his ultra-violent ways (involving methods too extreme even for the US government). Much lo and behold, after all of this course-correction, Alex eventually returns to a life of debauchery and evil doing. This is where the American-version of the book and the still fantastic Stanley Kubrick film end.

With this conclusion, we’re meant to take away that you can’t change a bird’s feathers permanently just by painting them a different color. We get it. But the original novel jumps forward a ways into the future where Alex just suddenly grows out of being such a mean-spirited douche, entirely changing the message so precisely lain into the framework of the story. It says, “Change comes only from within, never from an outside source forcing it upon you.” But those conniving publishers thought this was too much flip-flopping for an American audience to comprehend and instead reshaped the message and shifted the entire cultural zeitgeist revolving around this great work of art.

Returning to The Grandmaster, even though having the approval of director Kar-wai frames the whole re-editing process in a less authoritarian light than what took place in Scott and Burgess’s work, it is still a manipulation of vision for the percieved sake of an audience. An audience he obviously fails to understand. Like George Lucas returning to our beloved Star Wars trilogy (you know which one I’m referring to) and making Greedo shoot first, little changes make a big difference.

I wish that I had indeed seen the original cut of the film as I feel like I could fairly access it on different terms if that was the case, but as is, The Grandmaster feels doggedly incomplete. It’s packed with some truly stunning cinematography and a bulk of inspired directorial choices but is cut down by the hand that feeds it, resulting in a strange cross-cultural-hybrid nearly as confused as it is confusing.


It's Hard to Even Review ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE But Here Goes


How do you discuss a movie that seems to actively uphold genre trappings and makes absolutely no contribution to the film world at large or the horror subculture? You point out everything wrong with it and hope that no one makes these mistakes again. Well at least that’s what I’m gonna do. That and make fun of it.

Filmed in 2006, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane never saw the light of day (outside of a handful of horror festivals) until the Weinsteins recently picked it up for a late summer distribution and official theatrical release. Often heralded as the best kept secret in the horror genre, now that All The Boys Love Mandy Lane has seen the light of day, it’s clear that it should have stayed dead and buried.

As far as I can tell, the official synopsis is as follows: “Mandy Lane is a girl who is supposedly like super hot. She is like the hottest girl ever and like people would do anything to be with her. Her like best friend Emmet, who is a boy who is like totally not cool, is super jealous that all the boys like her so he like convinces this like super hot dude to jump off the roof into a pool to like impress her. But he like misses and dies. OMG. Months later, Mandy and Emmet are totally not BFFs anymore but Mandy is like super cool still (cuz she’s hot, duh!) and all the boys want to like get into her pants. When Mandy goes on a weekend trip with the popular kids, she like totally gets more than she asked for and bodies like start piling up. Also it’s like totally her friend Emmet.”


Embarrassing across the board, it’s hard to choose where to start digging into this lifeless pile of crap. Trying to decide what was the worst aspect is like arguing which historical dictator was the worse (my money is still on Hitler). In other words, it’s a contest of bads. The directing is flat-line, the acting supremely bottom-tier and the story is literally shocking in its complete and utter lack of originality. Like watching a pot of water boil, there is absolutely nothing interesting going on for the entirety of the film.

If anything, the “story” seems like a primer for something more; a trashed first draft that some dumpster diver found worth in and for some reason decided to make into an actual movie. It is as bare bones as you can get and fails to deviate from conventional horror plot structure to such a degree that you’re left wondering if they meant to be ironic in adhering to your each and every expectation. Cementing classic horror clichés rather than setting them up and flipping them on their heads, All The Boys Love Mandy Lane is mindlessly dull because its so awkwardly straight forward.

It’s as if there was a conscious effort to not add anything that could potentially be conceived as surprising or interesting. Even the death scenes were remarkably lame. I’m no champion of guts-and-gore but there is absolutely nothing here that is either distressing or haunting. Even when a girl gets a rifle shoved in her mouth until she starts to bleed, the practical effects and makeup are so unconvincing and juvenile that I felt like I was watching something my friends and I made in ninth grade. Not to discount our efforts… but come on people.


At the helm of this project is Jonathan Levine who is actually a fairly respectable filmmaker (this project notwithstanding). Levine’s 50/50 showed an unimaginably deft ability to blend cancer with comedy and even Warm Bodies was a mildly entertaining riff on the zombie and rom-com genre. At least Levine is not to blame for the utterly contrived script, as responsibility there goes to Jacob Forman, who, imagine that, has not had another writing credit since. Levine is, however, accountable for the utterly lifeless nature of the film. Each sepia-toned shot is as plagiarized and simple as the next and the repetitive camerawork makes this already slow movie drag its feet even more. Clearly, Levine has moved head and shoulders above this pedigree of filmmaking but it is still an embarrassment to have his name credited to his garbage.

If you’re going to make a slasher in this day and age, you need something to distinguish it from the pack. There are bins literally filled with movies about teenagers-at-an-abandoned-lake/cabin/ranch/who gives a shit and there’s a reason you find these types of movies overflowing the Walmart value bins at 99 cents a pop. They are literally piles of crap and all Levine has done is made the pile higher as there is not one distinguishing feature that makes this one stand above any of the others. In truth, this could be one of the worst horror movies ever made. If not the worst, it is certainly one of the least ambitious.

In order to get you to avoid this detestably lame sack of doo-doo, I’m going to go ahead and ruin the “twist” ending. Are you ready? Here come the final notes on Forman’s script: “It was her! She did it! She teamed up with her BFF and they were a team! OMG! Yes! Victory! Score! LMAO! Together they killed the popular kids…but now it’s time for them to kill themselves. Duped ya! Oh no she didn’t! Instead she’ll kill her BFF and totally gets away with it! Ha! Been there, killed them. Killed them all. Now it’s the end. Yes!”


All joking aside, this is literally the most poorly executed twist of all time. So it was her. Fine. It doesn’t really matter to me either way but I was ready to get to the bottom of this. Why exactly did she decide to seemingly abandon her unpopular best friend and befriend the popular kids (who’s only crime against her was really intense levels of awkward flirtation but I mean they never like tried to rape her or anything)? And just when we’re ready to get the answers and have the whole thing wrap up, it doesn’t. There’s nothing. No explanation. No justification. It’s almost as if Levine thought that he resolved everything, put down the camera, sparked a big joint and called it quits. It’s the movie equivalent of George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner: 12 years later and we’re still at war. Maybe it would have come across as ironic or, um, something if Mandy Lane (Amber Heard) didn’t have the personality of a pet rock but alas!

I’m just going to quickly breeze over the “acting” portion of this write-up because there is really nothing to talk about. There’s the jock, the popular kid, the nerd, the slut, the pretty one, and the virgin and each of them play their role with about as much bravado as an Ent (that’s me making a clever Lord of the Rings reference to call their acting wooden!) I guess the only two who are really required to do anything on an acting level are Heard and
Michael Welch as Emett but dear lord are they terrible characters. When you make Friday the 13th‘s Jason look like a complex and rounded character study, you know you’re doing something wrong. Shame on you both.

All in all, this is a movie you should simply avoid. It’s not scary. It’s not funny. It’s not ironic. It’s white bread soaked in water. It’s such a dullard that it’s almost confusing. I really do think that Levine must have assumed that there was something ironic about doing exactly what we expected him to do but in reality, it works about as well as the Hindenburg. That is, it blew up in his face. Even diehard horror fans are sure to walk away feeling empty and robbed at the end of this movie so if you absolutely must, must, must see it, wait for it at the bargain bins in Walmart because that is sure to be its eventual home.



Kevin Feige Isn't Afraid of Misleading You About the Future of Marvel

First things first, this editorial features in-depth discussion on Iron Man 3 so if you haven’t yet seen it turn back now. Don’t say I didn’t tell you so because SPOILERS FOLLOW…

Ok now that you’ve made it through, let’s talk Kevin Feige and Iron Man 3. So anyone who had seen one trailer, poster, T.V. spot or any semblance of marketing out of the third Iron Man campaign who be sure to tell you that Sir Ben Kingsley plays the villain, The Mandarin. Anyone who has seen the film however knows full-well that the Mandarin is actually a scapegoat, a performance, a fake. He’s the personification of our American fears of others, specifically when it comes to his eccentric Middle Eastern style of dress but when the camera’s stop rolling he’s actually just Trevor, a fickle English actor getting the role of a lifetime.

When this fact was revealed, I did a double-take. Was this some fake-out or a body-double? No, it was just plain old Trevor. I felt cheated. I had been waiting for my Ben Kingsley villainy and he’s nothing more than a hack thespian?! It took me a good twenty minutes to come to terms with the fact that Kingsley was not in fact the villain, even though I was under the impression from the first production announcement out of the Marvel camp that he would be.

Not only did Marvel head exec Kevin Feige, he rep Kingsley as the villain, he even talked up his performance as one of the fear-inducing dread:

“On his last take of his first full day as the Mandarin, when they yelled ‘Cut!’ the entire crew burst into applause, spearheaded by Mr. Downey himself…It was pretty amazing to see that. That’s what you get when you hire Sir Ben Kingsley. He’s so excited about his part and so into this character, and frankly just scaring the heck out of everybody…They’re like, ‘You’ve broken us out of our skeptical malaise!’

The more I began to dissect that gotcha! moment, the more I respected the long con on Feige’s part. In this information age, nothing is secret and nothing is sacred. There’s set photos snapped from iPhones, spoiler alerts that saturate online forums before the movie even gets close to theaters and trailers themselves have become more SparkNotes than intrigue builders. What Fiege has done is dupped us all into expecting something and pulling the carpet from under us. Did it work though? Yes and no.



On the one hand, he got me. He got my brother. He got probably most of the theater I was in. As far as subverting expectations, well done sir. He has managed to proof that Marvel and Co. are not strictly subject to the overflowing rumor mill and are willing to play their own crafty hand to mislead and deceive expectant audiences and impart a degree of surprise.

On the other hand, I feel like this bit of maneuvering is just a little confusing. Now that we know that Kingsley is just a goof in a silly robe isn’t it ridiculous that he’ll be plastered all over the posters and Blu-Ray covers? Guy Pearce put on a great performance as the true villain, Killian, and yet he won’t really be getting any cred nor will we see posters of Iron Man punching Killian in his fiery face (which I would personally love to see). It was a big risk and potentially could have alienated audiences but, IMO, it was a risk that paid off for the most part.

The question going forward is where will we see Feige-led deception next? Is the misleading something we can expect more of in the future or was this a one-and-done gambit? Honestly, I say keep the surprises coming. I like when you make me go – ‘Huh?’

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Can IRON MAN 3 Crack a Billy?


You may have seen the headlines strewn across internet banners that Iron Man 3 has bested the opening weekend of The Avengers internationally, putting it on track not only to be the biggest box office monster of the summer but also entering it in a position to duke it out for one of the top spots of all time. While The Avengers pulled in $185.1 million internationally on its opening weekend last May, Iron Man 3 has surpassed that opening take with $195.3 million to its name. And that’s before it opens in US theaters.

Thus far, reviews have been positively glowing and it’s got to nab a CinemaScore in the A/A+ range so it really seems like the sky is the limit for the Marvel behemoth.

The question is, will it best The Avengers hefty opening weekend that soared past highest expectations with $207.4 million? Probably not, as it is tracking somewhere around the $167M mark. Personally, I expect it to get closer to that prized $200M slot, but probably not to top it.If I had to put money down, I’d say it winds up somewhere in the $188M range but would not be surprised to see it blow past that number.

As for the residuals, so long as it snags the great CinemaScore that it seems to already have in the bank, hold-overs are sure to be good on this one and with nearly $200M in the bank already, this is sure to be a wild success irregardless. Will it reach that massive billy international mark though? I believe it will. It just needs time.

Iron Man 3, directed by Shane Black and starring Robert Downey Jr, Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Guy Pearce and Jon Favreau, hits theaters this Thursday, May 2.

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Dissecting Cronenberg's COSMOPOLIS

Cosmopolis is philosophical poetry in motion told through a series of increasingly bizarre and abtruse vignettes that doesn’t wait for you to catch up, a tactic that kept me glued to the screen in anxious anticipation and careful study for it’s entire one hour and 49 minute run time. In a word, it’s brilliant. The prosaic and poetic script from director David Cronenberg lays the backbone for a film that at first seems robotic but as you loosens up to it, the non-colloquial language and theatrical tone keeps you on your toes while engaging you with it’s bleak views on the state of the postmodern world.

From the get-go, we’re told that life is about eating and talking and these two activities essentially fill every frame of the film. It’s very talky and often heady but it’s all tremendously provocative and ultimately intoxicating.

Cronenberg frames capitalism and mass market finance as a specter to be rebelled against and pits a wildly young billionaire at odds with his lifestyle choices as the world around him throttles in protest. A post-Twilight Robert Pattinson fills the shoes of the wealthy protagonist, the aptly named Eric Packer, and his transformation throughout the film is undeniably measured as he encounters a host of people during a limo ride across NYC who slowly but surely breakdown his crumbling worldview. Pattinson’s performance may start robotic and deadpan, and vaguely parallels Christian Bale‘s turn in American Psycho, but his slow emotional maturation is powerful and cathartic.

The content, framing and directorial choices within the film are all very hallucinatory and metaphorical and poise meaningful questions about the connection between immortality and technology and presents a warning of the growing fortune mongers. This asks, has mass disparity changed what it means to be human?

An ongoing bit about rats seems to be derived from this inherent social disconnect along wealth lines but is played in such a way that you have to seek out the subtext rather than have it hunting you down. What plays out onscreen is a showcase for how the human condition has essentially become alienated from itself and if you’re willing to engage in the narrative that Cronenberg is creating, you are sure to have a meaning experience with the film.

Much like the message carefully grafted onto the film, we see the dangerous intersection of anarchy and relentless progress and we are helpless bystanders as the film, and the world, surge on. This is a cautionary and timely tale that really speaks to the heart of our economic and social state of affairs and borders on guru-level philosophy.

A stand out performance from Paul Giamatti punctuates the many themes of the film and draw the whole thing to an open-ended but rewarding close.

While this certainly is not a film for everyone and I’m sure that any tween going to see this for their favorite Twilight vampire would protest that this is the worst film ever made ever, it is an intellectual and emotional experience that is undeniably theatrical and wholly captivating.